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Published:
2018-07-16 11:13:34 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with James Kruk, who volunteers as an AO3 Support Staffer.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I volunteer with the AO3 Support Committee, which has the responsibility of answering any questions about how to use the site. Really, it’s about making AO3 as accessible to as many as people as possible, and helping them get the most out of the Archive.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

AO3 Support has a fairly steady rhythm day-to-day. When people send in a request for technical support and feedback, it generates a support ticket, where it will be claimed or assigned to a Support volunteer. From there, we figure out what the response should be, or whether it needs to be passed along to another group, such as the AO3 Abuse Team (who deal with questions related to the Terms of Service), or to our translation team. Sometimes we get inundated with tickets (such as whenever the Archive goes offline for a few minutes), or when major events like Yuletide come along. And while it’s never entirely quiet, some weeks are smoother than others.

Some tickets can be answered in a manner of minutes, but many require some research, testing, and consulting with other volunteers. The questions users come to us with really can be about anything, so every week usually involves tinkering with something new. One week it’s figuring out if AO3 is compatible with the Tor Browser, the next, it’s figuring out how Google Chrome renders combining diacritics.

What made you decide to volunteer?

Way before I applied to volunteer, I’d been preaching the benefits of AO3 to everyone in my writing circles, trying to convey to them just how awesome of a platform it was. I found I really enjoyed showing off all the neat things you could do with the site, and I loved to tout its policy of maximum inclusiveness.

Eventually, I realized that my enthusiasm could maybe be made to actually help the Archive itself. With AO3 Support, I’ve found I’ve been able to directly improve people’s experiences of using the Archive, helping them enjoy it the same way I do. And that has been incredibly rewarding.

What’s the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

Helping authors publish their fics the way they want them to appear. Sometimes that involves showing writers how to embed images in a work, how to right-align text, how to format line breaks or add in a hyperlink. You can do a ton of cool things with HTML to get your story to look just how you imagine, and helping authors with the finishing touches is extremely rewarding.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I write fanfiction as regularly as I’m able to. I remember typing up Star Wars adventures on my computer when I was maybe ten years old, and I don’t believe that the bug ever really left me. I began publishing in earnest around 2013, and soon made AO3 my home for all my works. I used to stick primarily in one or two fandoms and wrote mostly in the same genre, but I’ve grown much more comfortable experimenting over the years, both in terms of style and subject. I crossed the half-million word mark not too long ago, and have no plans to stop now!


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2018-06-17 11:15:45 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Adi M., who volunteers as a translator.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

Translation helps make the OTW's content accessible to as many people as possible, which is a fundamental part of the organization's vision. I know a lot of people in my country shy away from any English content, whether because they don't feel comfortable reading in English or because they simply don't understand it enough. Knowing my translations help bring people in my country closer to fandom is one of the best parts of the role.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

My team is still fairly new, so there's a lot of content to translate and many terms and protocols to discuss, so there's always work to do! I get my task from Translation staff, usually with a deadline of one week, and as soon as I finish a task there's another one waiting.

I also note down any new term that needs to be discussed, or any question I have for the rest of my team, and when the list gets long enough I contact my team to set a meeting to figure out everything. Some terms can be frustrating, but that's all part of the fun!

What made you decide to volunteer?

I have been in fandom for 7 years now, and have always loved to translate everything I could get my hands on. Joining the OTW as a translator brought two of my favorite things in the world together.

You volunteered this year to be a chat room moderator for International Fanworks Day. What was that like?

It was a great experience for me. I was hesitant to volunteer for it in the beginning, but as the day drew closer I got more excited, and in the end, I am very happy I did it. I had the chance to meet new people I don't share a fandom with, and it was amazing how we still managed to bond over fannish joys and ideas even without liking the same things. When we need volunteers for next year, I'll be signing up!

What fannish things do you like to do?

I (try to) write fics, and I can't manage without reading at least one fic a day. I also love translating fics from English to Hebrew, both to make them more accessible for Hebrew-speaking fans and to practice my translation skills.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2018-05-13 11:13:36 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Claire Baker, who volunteers as a member of the OTW Board.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

The OTW's current Board members tend to wear many hats, and I am no exception. I co-chair the AO3 Documentation Committee (call us Docs!), wrangle tags in a handful of fandoms, do layout editing for Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), and also serve on our Board of Directors.

Docs and Tag Wrangling are both AO3 committees: Docs writes FAQs, tutorials, and other user-facing help documentation, and Tag Wrangling sorts the tags users put on their works so that all the works about the same topic (fandom, character, pairing, etc) can be easily found. With TWC, I'm on the production team: my job is to take articles that have been written and copyedited, and add html formatting.

The Board of Directors oversees everything, though this oversight works best when we have direct communication with those who will be affected by our work. As such, we end up meeting either synchronously or asynchronously with chairs and committee members on a regular basis. We're aiming to build strong connections between us and each part of the OTW. And if we're not, I hope the committees can lead us to understand how we better can do our job!

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

Like many people say in these Five Things posts, there's no such thing as a typical week within the OTW. However, I do have a schedule that I like to follow when I can.

I often try to start my OTW day with some tag wrangling. This may involve sorting through new tags, spreadsheeting older ones, or double-checking that canonical tags for my fandoms are all in order.

After that, I'll do some work for Docs. As a chair, this usually means looking at AO3 FAQs or tutorials that have recently been drafted, or documents that have completed our editing cycle and are almost ready for upload. Ideally, I'd look at one or more of these a day, but generally it's a little less than that. We chairs rotate between regular administrative tasks, so I may also send out our weekly check-in or a reminder to our sister committees that works are open for external betaing. Chairs attempt to meet weekly and talk asynchronously around that, so in a typical week I've been in contact with both of my co-chairs, and we've likely discussed or done work on a bigger administrative task as well.

If TWC has a new issue coming up, I'll spend a couple of days applying html to articles in order to get them publication ready, but that's not necessarily in a typical week; my job is only needed a couple of times per year.

And then there's my Board work. The most regular part here is voting. As soon as a request comes in, we will look into the issue, discuss it as needed, and vote. Voting happens asynchronously, and we are usually able to respond within 48 hours. Meetings are very much of a Board reality, and so chances are that I've scheduled or am scheduling one during any given week. (And on the weeks when Board does not meet, I will likely have a meeting scheduled with one of my other committees.) Outside of that, I try to put in an hour on Board documentation somewhere in my day —- either looking over existing pages, or drafting missing documentation. I've still got a lot to learn, but I'll keep on studying, asking questions, and working with others to build a deeper understanding for myself, and hopefully a better OTW for everyone.

Board members hold the only elected positions in the OTW. What made you decide to run?

The short answer is that I'm a nerd who loves the OTW and wants to see it become the best it can be. The long answer's a little more complicated, if no less heartfelt.

I fell in love with the concept of the OTW the moment that I was introduced to it in 2012. I fell in love with the people when I started volunteering in 2014. I was happy to do various tasks and to lend an opinion when needed, and I built a reputation of being a good person with strong leadership skills somewhere along the line. Meanwhile, I was witnessing transition: Docs went from a workgroup to a committee, the OTW adopted a new internal communication platform, and the Board itself went through a changing of the guard. Through all of that, I learned how great (and complicated) the OTW could be, and how much I valued it as a place of work.

By 2017, I was the third-longest serving member in Docs, and had gained a breadth of experience through mentoring new staff, taking on new roles within the OTW, and generally being an active participant in our volunteer community. When Elections and the Board started running opportunities to learn more about candidacy, I found myself participating there too.

In all honesty, I originally expected to wait one more year to have that much more knowledge under my belt, and so I could run alongside a friend who didn't quite qualify for candidacy. However, there was a need for more candidates for a fair, contested election, and I knew I had the time and skill set needed to serve the OTW well, so I put my name up for consideration.

Now, I wouldn't take back that decision for anything. I work alongside people I think of as great role models, and learn more from them every time we talk. I've gained a lot of knowledge about the OTW as a whole as well, and really do enjoy both the joys and challenges that come with helping the entire organization move forward smoothly. My hope now is that I can help foster the next generation of people to join our ranks, whether as new volunteers or new board members, and make the OTW an even better place for the fan community at large.

What are things you think fans probably do and don't understand about the OTW Board?

When I was new to the OTW, there was a lot of wariness about Board, and a pretty strong Them vs. Us mentality. We're working on breaking this down, but it takes a lot of time and effort to build, earn, and maintain trust.

The Board exists to make sure that we're all on the same page, and that we're doing what we need to still be around for years to come. If there's something coming up that we need to be prepared for, like GDPR, we'll make sure that the necessary conversations are happening. If AO3 needs more servers, we're here to make sure that those needs are acknowledged and met. Otherwise, we're happy to talk about our favourite characters and ships and take part in a wide variety of fannish activities, just like everyone else here.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I'm a cosplayer. I entered competitions in my first few years of cosplay, and won an award or two, but have since found that I prefer doing it a little more casually. I also run panels at conventions, and often end up coordinating panel and cosplay schedules alike for the group that I'll be attending with. Really, there's nothing better than spending a weekend with your friends, talking about your favourite fandoms while you're all dressed as characters from them. It's a lot of fun, and well worth the effort.

I also write fanfic and RP, and love sharing headcanons with my friends. Somehow this led to becoming a regular beta for a few of them, which I love. Being able to look at their works before anyone else is an absolute treat, and if I can help make their works stronger before they're published, all the better.

Most of my writing these days is for gift exchanges. I have a habit of running three or four small gift exchanges simultaneously, and participating in several more. I'm also a serial pinch hitter, and will do my best to make sure everyone has something to look forward to when gifts are revealed.

My other love is for the academic side of fandom. I'm building up a small library of books related to the subject, and would love to get a Masters or PhD in fan studies one day. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my time as an independent scholar.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2018-04-28 11:17:20 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Rachel Bussert, who volunteers as a staffer in our Volunteers & Recruitment Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

The mission of any organization is driven by the people who dedicate their time and resources to it. Volunteers & Recruiting (VolCom) is very central to that for OTW. Throughout the year, we handle recruitment for all the positions needed, which readers may see regularly in our announcement posts. Below is a chart of OTW’s volunteer numbers over time. As you can see, the number of folks involved in the organization have increased over time to accommodate the work of each committee, and Volunteers & Recruiting is the first step in making sure those staffing needs are being met.

Our work doesn’t stop with recruitment. Volunteers & Recruiting keeps track of the service of each volunteer in the organization, such as the number of years they've been with us and which roles they've held. We coordinate all of the account permissions and tool access that people need to do their work and interact with other volunteers. We also process the turnover as people depart the OTW or as they move into different positions. We report all these changes each month in the OTW newsletter.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

There tends to be an ebb and flow of work throughout the year, so there’s not necessarily a single answer to that. A given week might include any or all of the following:

  • Discussing committee needs for personnel with their chairs and reviewing role requirements
  • Processing applications for various recruitment campaigns
  • Induction or retirement of volunteers
  • Updating information on volunteers going on or coming off of hiatus
  • Editing tools and resources when a volunteer’s name or email changes
  • Updating organization wide tools and training
  • Work on various internal projects

Did anything take you by surprise when you began volunteering for the OTW or your committee?

Two things, though I think both of them speak more to OTW as an organization rather than just VolCom. The first thing was how well organized everything is overall. Most of the non-profits I’ve had experience partnering with tend to be a little bit haphazard for a variety of reasons, so I was pleasantly surprised by how clear onboarding and training was, and how much effort various committees put into working together for a common goal.

The other thing was just the sheer enthusiasm there is all the way around. Every time we recruit for a role, I’m floored by how many people apply because they want to get involved. That’s not to mention within the organization. There are a lot of really amazing people who put their heart and soul into this.

What's the most rewarding thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

Fandom has given me so much. I was kind of a lonely kid, and getting into writing fanfiction was the first time I really found people who felt like my people. A couple of my closest friends are folks I met because they commented on my writing, or because we happened to be in the same fandom chat, and so fandom in general is really special to me. I also gravitate pretty strongly towards non-profits in general, so OTW is just this really natural fit.

I think what is most rewarding for me is that with VolCom, I’ve had the opportunity to take some of the skills I’ve developed in my day job, and turn them towards supporting a cause I have so much love for.

What fannish things do you like to do?

All of them? In all seriousness though, I have a lot of fannish interests. In terms of content creation, I write a lot. I’ve been teaching myself art via photomanipulation as well and having a great time with it. I’m mostly in the Captain America fandom these days, but I dip back into Doctor Who and Fullmetal Alchemist now and again. I also cosplay competitively sometimes and get really absurdly excited about documentation and screen accuracy.

I’m pretty serious about giving back to the community that’s given so much to me, so I also tend to get really involved behind the scenes. In addition to OTW, I am on the team that runs two of the writing/art events in my current fandom, I run one of my city’s cosplay meetup groups, and I’m the co-chair for the cosplay masquerade at a local convention.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2018-03-22 11:41:30 -0400
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Nikki Bird, who volunteers as a staffer in our Finance Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I am part of the Finance Committee, which handles the money things for OTW. We are responsible for the bookkeeping of the organization, as well as tax preparation, budgeting, and any other fun and exciting financial related matters that come up. Basically, we make sure a lot of the administrative stuff is taken care of for the OTW to keep running.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

My weeks range from calm and quiet, with ample sleeping, eating, reading, and writing (although those have been rare and I’m probably just dreaming that this is even possible) to insane and crazy (the normal standard of my life now). I work full time (is there something more than full time?), am enrolled in online graduate-level accounting classes, and my significant annoyance needs occasional attention like watching TV together or epically competitive Monopoly games (I never knew I was so competitive). So I fit in my volunteer work as much as I can in the evenings and on the weekends.

And no week is the same for the Finance Committee, it really depends on what is going on. We have meetings once a week on the weekends and update each other on what’s happening, although we frequently chat in between meetings, discussing things that are going on as they happen. Some weeks are fairly quiet in terms of what needs to get done, others are jam packed with all kinds of things that it’s hard to know what to work on first. Lately, the main focuses have been the budget for 2018 and 2017 year end, as well as learning the bookkeeping system.

What experiences have you had that you found helpful for your volunteer work?

I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state I live in and work full time in the accounting department of a non-profit with prior experience as an auditor. So I have experience and education in non-profit accounting that translates really well into my role in the Finance Committee. And conversely, since joining the Finance Committee, I have learned and experienced things with OTW that I then take back to my work since the organizations have different focuses and operations. With OTW operating all online, it’s shown me some different tools and methods for operating more efficiently and in a paperless way that I then am trying to incorporate at my work.

What's the most rewarding thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to help OTW with the accounting. Non-profit accounting has some different rules and quirks than a for-profit company would have and I like being able to share my knowledge in a helpful way. As I progress in my career, I hope to become an expert in non-profit accounting, so my volunteering with OTW is helping me tremendously by gaining experience that I don’t have access to at my work, again just because it’s two very different organizations.

What fannish things do you like to do?

I stumbled into the fandom world at the end of 2016 thanks to looking online to decide if I wanted to read the next series in a fandom and discovered my OTP was canon (and at the time had no clue what that meant and didn’t even realize I had an OTP). That led me to fan fics and art on Tumblr, which lead to my discovery of Ao3, which led to me eventually trying to write my own stuff. I’m sad I didn’t discover this treasurer trove of online community sooner, although my school and work productivity is thankful (productivity definitely took a sharp nosedive for a few months as I consumed fics like oxygen and they were necessary for my very survival).

But I really enjoy being a part of the various fandoms I like, even if I’m not a super active participant. I like seeing other people’s headcanons, reading fics, seeing art. I just love consuming it all and feeling connected to other people based on our interests. Nothing is better than screaming nonsense with others about how great something is and how much you love it and all the feels that come with it.

I would love to actively write more often, but life has been too busy for that to be a regular focus. As I have little bits of time I’m slowly working away, maybe someday I’ll be able to post it.


Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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Published:
2018-02-23 11:49:40 -0500
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Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Cosette, who volunteers as a coder for the Accessibility, Design, and Technology (AD&T) Committee.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

As an AD&T coding volunteer, I work with the open-source code that powers AO3. Coders are recruited to fix bugs, write tests, and develop features. We also work side by side with testing volunteers, to ensure the changes we've made to the code won't cause anything to catch fire.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

AD&T uses a project management tool to track issues (bugs, improvements, new features, tests, etc). So it typically goes like this:

  • Check the planning board for issues I think I can solve
  • Try to solve them
  • Sometimes: cry and dramatically shut my laptop
  • Most times: submit the solution

Other responsibilities include:

  • Creating issues for newly discovered bugs (things that aren't working as intended), improvements (things that could work better), new features (things that don't exist yet but will in the future), tests (automated tests that ensure the website behaves as intended), and so on.

  • Communicating with other members of the AD&T committee about my progress, and keeping up to date with their progress and plans as well.
  • Whenever questions come up, AD&T staff is always helpful in answering them! Also, there's usually some off-topic conversation in the chat room, which is fun.

    Do you have other roles in the OTW besides being a coder?

    Yeah, I also volunteer for Webs, which is the committee that maintains the OTW's website as well as the Elections and Open Doors websites. This mainly consists of fighting WordPress. Since I’m a liaison to Communications, I must also keep them up to date with any problems or changes to the website, and provide answers when they have questions or need a bit of help. Additionally, Webs offers technical assistance to other committees wherever they may need it.

    What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

    The community. There's a lot of socialising that goes on in the OTW and you can always find someone with a common interest. I've never been a part of a working community that was entirely comprised of fans. In theory, you'd think that would be awesome, and in practice, it is.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    Writing fanfiction!! Translating manga. And browsing fan art. Encouragement is everything so, when I see something I like, I tell the creator how much I love it. Also, brainstorming headcanons and AUs with friends. The existence of fandom is a pillar in my life and I want to do my part in protecting it and contributing to it; that's why I volunteer for the OTW.


    Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.


    The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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    Published:
    2018-01-19 11:36:40 -0500
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    Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

    Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. As part of our participation in Copyright Week, today's post is with Betsy Rosenblatt, who volunteers as Chair of our Legal Committee.

    How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

    As chair of the Legal Committee, I have a dual role. Part of my work focuses on legal advocacy, education, and other interactions with the outside world. I help guide the advocacy and education missions of the organization by setting advocacy priorities, writing governmental submissions and informational posts, answering fan questions about law & fanworks, coordinating with allies, responding when the OTW’s projects face legal challenge, and being a representative of the organization in advocacy settings, academic settings, and fandom settings.

    The other part focuses on internal work within the OTW -— helping other committees with legal questions and advising the organization on internal legal matters, much the way a legal department of a company would advise the company.

    I don’t do any of these things alone, of course -— the legal team is full of wonderful, smart, hard-working experts and we work closely together on each of these tasks.

    What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

    I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical week! Most weeks involve answering fan queries, responding to questions from other OTW committees, and monitoring legal developments. I also participate in frequent phone conferences with allied organizations to talk about current legal issues and projects.

    Beyond that, there’s a lot of variation! Sometimes we’re researching and drafting submissions to governmental organizations or preparing for hearings; sometimes we’re helping review contracts and terms of service; sometimes we’re writing about developments in the law; sometimes we’re doing legal research to help the OTW make legal decisions. We’re always dealing with new things along with our steady maintenance work.

    What would the world look like if there was no longer any need for the OTW's Legal Advocacy project?

    Utopia? Actually, I’m not sure that such a world could exist. Although there are lots of specific challenges that we face now around the world, the OTW’s legal advocacy project isn’t only about fixing particular problems—it’s about building and maintaining a delicate balance in a dynamic world. As technologies for creation and distribution of media and fanworks continue to grow and change, there will always be new challenges for fans.

    I would love to see a world in which noncommercial fanwork creation and distribution were protected from legal challenge and exploitation, and fanworks were readily available to all -— that’s the sort of world we’re working toward —- but law and society are constantly changing each other, so legal advocacy for important causes will always be necessary.

    What's the most rewarding thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

    Feeling like I -— and more importantly, fans -— have a voice in law and policy.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I’m an old-school Sherlockian, which means I am involved with (pre-Internet, oh my!) organizations like the Baker Street Irregulars and the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes. I attend Sherlockian events and write about the Sherlock Holmes canon in the style of the "Great Game."

    I also blog about TV. And I go to cons -— I love speaking on panels, working at booths, and walking the floor at San Diego Comic Con. And really, I’ve so integrated fandom into my life as a professor and scholar that it seems like most of what I do is just a little bit fannish!


    Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

    The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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    Published:
    2017-12-15 11:33:43 -0500
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    Five Things an OTW Volunteer Said

    Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer's personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today's post is with Mandy Gooch, who volunteers for the Strategic Planning Committee.

    How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

    As a Strategic Planning (SP) committee member, I am involved in helping to grow and develop the OTW as an organization through implementation of its strategic planning goals. We do this work so that the OTW can keep focused on particular things we want to have happen in the future, and so that we'll have the guidelines and tools we need to help that happen.

    Some of the ways we'll do this is to make sure volunteers understand their roles and how to do them, to make sure our board and the leaders of our committees can hand their roles on to others when they need to change their positions or move on, and to make it as easy and clear as possible to do the different tasks that the OTW, as a non-profit, needs to do to be accountable to its users and supporters. My committee doesn't come up with these plans so much as it helps all the different parts of the OTW come up with them. We help them decide what's truly important for both their committee and the OTW as a whole, and then help make sure that progress is getting made by all parts of the organization since some groups are farther along in some details than others. Because Strategic Planning's mission is about the future, we work most closely with the Board and the chairs of the OTW committees who will guide us there, and help them think about what's coming when they're usually busy dealing with today's problems.

    I am also a Tag Wrangling volunteer, which is where I get to dabble in the fandom side of things a bit more. It's a lot of fun and is a way that I can be more connected to fandom without actually creating fanworks. It's also a really great way to find new authors in AO3, which is fantastic on the one hand...and also dangerous on the other since my To Read list keeps growing and growing!

    What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

    I typically put in a few hours each week for Strategic Planning -- between 3 to 5 hours depending on what is happening in the committee. I usually meet for two hours each week with everyone in the committee to keep up-to-date on our current projects and discuss future goals. Right now SP Staffers are very involved in the implementation of the Strategic Plan. This involves at least two SP committee members signing up to be implementation monitors during a month; we call ourselves ImpMons (yep, just like the Digimon). As an ImpMon I am usually communicating with other committees about upcoming goals, tracking their progress, assisting committees in understanding a goal or meeting a deadline, and updating Board about the OTW's overall progress. ImpMons also host Open Office Hours for our staff/volunteers to attend each month in our internal chat channel. It is a great way for committees to learn more about upcoming or current goals and to get feedback.

    Outside of ImpMon duties, my week may include meetings for projects the Strategic Planning committee might be working on -- we have to meet the goals of the Strategic Plan, too, so we work on our committee's goals at the same time as monitoring implementation. It might sound like a lot of meetings, but honestly it flies by since the work is rewarding and my other Strategic Planning staff are so much fun to work with on projects!

    I also try to fit in a few hours each week for wrangling tags in my fandoms and working on a wrangling project for MCU.

    January will mark the one-year anniversary of the Strategic Plan. What will that mean for the OTW?

    I think it means we've hit a great milestone and made some real strides into completing our Strategic Plan. I'm so excited to see our one year mark coming up! The OTW is moving forward and growing even stronger as an organization and this is thanks to all of the hard work every committee has put into completing their goals.

    I honestly have to say that when I first started in the Strategic Planning committee about 2.5 years ago, I was pretty intimidated when thinking about the implementation process for this plan. However, that was newbie!me being nervous. Working with everyone on this has been a great adventure and I've learned so much about strategic planning, volunteering, and working in an international organization. Everyone here is so dedicated and passionate about what they do in the OTW and it is really inspiring to see that level of commitment! Personally, I think reaching one year has been a great time to reflect on where we were, where we are, and where we are going. I am very glad I can take part in all of this.

    What's the most fun thing to you about volunteering for the OTW?

    Meeting new people and learning more about what everyone does in the OTW. It takes me a little while to open up in a group and I think volunteering for the OTW has really helped me grow in that area. I've made some great friends in my time here. It's also really interesting to learn about each committee and how they contribute to the organization. Strategic Planning has a very different process compared to, say, Tag Wrangling or Systems. Every committee contributes a lot to the functionality of the OTW and understanding how everyone works together has not only been important as an SP volunteer, but also as someone who appreciates and strives for collaboration.

    What fannish things do you like to do?

    I read a lot of fanfiction in my spare time and years ago I used to write a little here and there. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or motivation to write fanfiction right now, so I consume a lot to make up for it. I also enjoy conventions and cosplay. Creating costumes has been a passion since I was a kid and I really enjoy making a costume and interacting with other fans at conventions.


    Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in comments. Or if you'd like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

    The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.

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